‘Digital transformation hype not reflected by reality’

The reality of digital transformation is that organisations will face a wide range of organisational, technical and operational barriers to change.

According to a Claranet report, if IT leaders are to successfully generate value for their organisations they must focus on iterative change, putting their applications and increased automation at the heart of IT strategy.

Exploring the responses of 750 IT decision-makers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux, the report identified how businesses manage and host their applications, and how well-placed they are to adapt to the new digital economy.

>See also: The top 5 trends for digital transformation in 2018 

The majority of those surveyed highlighted a number of barriers in implementing organisation-wide technology changes, with skills shortages in the IT department, a lack of time to make changes and a lack of support from senior management given as key reasons.

Eight in ten agreed that they should experiment more with new processes and technology, while 48% organisations reported that their IT department is stuck in a reactive mode.

Only 10% of respondents said that their organisation is agile with regard to its approach to IT processes.

Commenting on the research findings, Michel Robert – Claranet’s UK managing director – said that “business and IT leaders are facing ever-increasing amounts of pressure to transform their operations. Greater levels of competition, heightening customer demands and decreasing tolerance for technology faults and inflexible IT systems, are all creating new imperatives for change. It should come as little surprise that so many businesses have bought into the concept of ‘digital transformation.”

>See also: Digital transformation is just business transformation

“But for most, that change will take time to implement, and while the increasingly-common term digital transformation conjures up images of overnight metamorphosis, this research confirms that the picture, especially for mid-market organisations, is much more complicated.”

“Organisations across Europe are gradually filtering more progressive IT practices into their operations, and there is a clear recognition of the importance of applications in improving the customer (both internal and external) experience, but barriers to the adoption of these practices exist,” he continued.

“Only about one in ten European businesses report that their applications and the infrastructure to support them are where they need to be in terms of stability, reliability and responsiveness; IT systems are still fragmented in the majority of cases; and data sets are largely disparate, making them challenging to draw valuable insights from. While the majority of European businesses have started on their journey, it will take some time before they get there.”

Digital transformation strategy

Instead of the ‘big bang’ approach, IT leaders should approach digital transformation efforts in a more focused and iterative manner, developing a philosophy of continuous improvement to boost competitive performance without having to periodically enact disruptive change.

>See also: Top 5 biggest challenges for digital transformation in the NHS

“There are right and wrong ways to move to the cloud,” said Robert. “Simply ‘lifting and shifting’ an IT estate to the cloud and assuming the job is immediately done is not sufficient, and a ‘big bang’ approach – where businesses race to incorporate every cloud tool immediately – can lead to a loss of control and increased risk. Instead, a process of incremental change is the way to go, and enables a cloud environment to bed in and grow at a sensible pace.”

“Our recommendation is for businesses to do more planning before any migrations start to check whether their applications are already cloud-ready or need to be re-engineered. This is essential as changes are often required to take full advantage of automation, scalability, rapid development and other features offered in the cloud. The right strategy will vary, sometimes considerably, depending on the nature of the application, so it is crucial that this is taken into account. Successful migrations are very rarely ‘lift and shift’ and strong leadership, with a clear direction of travel, is required.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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